Sunday 8 October 2023

Experts Point To Iran After Hamas Invades Israel: ‘Would Not Have Happened Without’ Iran

 Suspicion mounts against Iran after Hamas invaded Israel on Saturday as experts weigh Tehran’s response and its interest in unsettling the Middle East.

Israel began retaliatory strikes against Hamas targets on Saturday under “Operation Swords of Iron.” Experts say the Hamas invasion likely could not have happened without significant help from Tehran.

“We condemn the unprecedented and unprovoked terrorist attack on Israel coordinated by the Islamic Republic of Iran through its proxy Hamas,” Heritage Foundation national security experts Victoria Coates and Robert Greenway said in a statement. “Absent significant training, equipment, and intelligence capabilities supplied by Iran, Hamas would never have been able to have carried out such an operation.”

Lina Khatib, director of the SOAS Middle East Institute at the University of London, said: “An attack of such scope could only have happened after months of planning and would not have happened without coordination with Iran.”

“Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, does not singlehandedly make decisions to engage in war without prior explicit agreement from Iran,” Khatib added.

Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror, uses an extensive terror network to wield influence in the Middle East. The loud support that Tehran has voiced for Hamas’ invasion of Israel has left some experts suggesting that Tehran may have pushed Hamas into acting in order to scuttle a budding relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, according to Politico.

Iran has been a vocal critic of the Saudi-Israel relationship, especially recently. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned against normalizing ties with Israel on October 3, saying, “the position of the Islamic Republic is that countries that make the gamble of normalization with Israel will lose. They are betting on a losing horse.”

The aggressiveness with which Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza left little doubt as to how Israel must respond. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war and promised that “the enemy will pay an unprecedented price.” The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) targeted known headquarters of Hamas militants, who typically plant themselves in highly populated areas that risk civilians in any assault made against them.

Israel’s violent response appears to have already strained the tenuous Saudi-Israeli relationship. Riyadh issued a statement Saturday calling for immediate de-escalation after hundreds of Israelis were killed by Hamas terrorists.

“The kingdom calls for an immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides, the protection of civilians, and restraint,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said, according to The Washington Examiner. “The Kingdom recalls its repeated warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situations as a result of the continued occupations, the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repeating of systematic provocation against its sanctities.”

The loss of a Saudi-Israeli relationship would be a blow to the U.S., as well, which has nurtured the relationship for years. The Biden administration’s Middle East goals have at times worked counter to each other, however. As Riyadh built ties with Jerusalem, the Biden administration sought to cool relations with Iran to score a new nuclear agreement. The Biden administration recently negotiated a controversial prisoner swap with Tehran that allowed Iran access to $6 billion in oil funds.

Whether Israel’s counterattack grows to include Iranian targets alongside Hamas remains to be seen.

“This is an unprecedented multidimensional attack on Israel designed to kill and abduct civilians and soldiers. Part of the Iranian network of terror,” former IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said. “As the extent of Israeli casualties will be confirmed, I expect an Israeli response never seen before. This is just the beginning.”

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